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How to Make Time for Learning—Without Losing Productivity

Find out how to prioritize continuous learning to influence business outcomes and reach your own professional goals.
May 2020  · 6 min read

The global shift to remote work may foreshadow the normalization of flexible work arrangements, replacing the typical 9-to-5, five-day workweek. With this shift comes the opportunity to rethink our approach to how we balance productivity and skill development. The challenge office workers are facing is how to structure their day to make productive use of their time and not letting it go to waste.

The benefits of continuous learning

Continuous learning is about gaining the skills to make professional growth and career goals become a reality. This is true for those who want to perform better in their current roles and for those who’d like to make a change in their career path.

One of our learners, Cameron White, was able to apply the data skills he acquired on DataCamp to his role on the newly-formed data science team at Fruit of the Loom. In five years, he completed over 200 courses, over 10,000 exercises, gained over a million XP, and completed nearly all the skill tracks and career tracks on DataCamp.

Cameron made a daily practice of learning on DataCamp and was able to save 196 workdays with the coding skills he acquired. He applied his learnings directly to his work “on numerous occasions, sometimes even on the very next day!”

Now imagine if everyone at your company was able to dedicate even a small part of their day or week to learning. Learning is often deprioritized in favor of immediate tasks at hand—but those who prioritize learning often see a huge impact on business and career outcomes. The key is to encourage individuals to apply the skills they gain immediately in real-world projects on their way to a key milestone.

How to make time for learning

Continuous learning moves the needle in business. Here are three tips on how to make a habit out of learning for yourself and across your company.

1. Try online learning.

For individuals

Many people are attracted to learning programs that grant degrees or certificates, which require a significant investment in time and money. Rather than enrolling in a bootcamp or waiting for a master’s program to start in the fall, why not begin your learning today with an online learning platform? Self-paced learning is often more affordable than traditional learning environments, with the added benefit of allowing you to learn on your own terms without conforming to a rigid schedule.

For businesses

In our recent webinar Moving From In-Person Training to Online Training, Ted Kwartler, VP, Trusted AI at DataRobot, explained the three biggest benefits of moving to online training:

  • Save time by providing training to more people
  • Save money—online training is more affordable and scalable than in-person classes
  • Increase flexibility and access to training

2. Ensure a learning support system.

For individuals

Make sure to communicate to your support system—perhaps your boss, family members, and close friends—that learning is important to you. They’ll be more likely to support your learning goals if they understand how you plan to use the skills you learn. Like Cameron, make a practice of applying what you learn to your day-to-day work. And if you’re learning on DataCamp, leverage our skill assessments to measure your progress and communicate what you’ve learned.

For businesses

The most successful companies adopt a learning culture because the nature of work today requires the ability to respond appropriately to new information. This is particularly true of data skills. Basic understanding of data tools and resources across a company greatly improves the quality of interaction among colleagues, allows teams to make better requests, and empowers everyone to make decisions autonomously.

Some managers may hesitate to encourage their team members to set aside time for skill development, fearing that day-to-day work may get neglected. But giving employees the time and tools to invest in skill development allows your business to remain competitive. Upskilling employees leads to better data-driven decisions and business outcomes. Investing in learning is an investment in the business. Learning often makes people more productive—for example, when applying data skills to automate routine tasks. With increased data skills comes increased productivity!

3. Create a learning schedule.

For individuals

Set aside time on your calendar to make sure you can focus on learning. Breaking up your day with timeboxing or Pomodoro may help. Be realistic about what your schedule can accommodate. You can start with short time blocks of 30 minutes per week, and ideally work up to daily learning like Cameron.

For businesses

Many of our customers are companies that care about building a learning culture, led by managers who respect the learning process, staffed by employees who are willing to invest the time and effort to learn. These companies often train new hires as part of the onboarding process and have formal learning programs, and many managers encourage their teams to set aside time on their schedules to learn.

DataCamp’s unique value for learners

To make informed decisions, you need to invest in building data skills. It’s a surefire path to meaningful professional development—and stronger business outcomes.

DataCamp provides a learn-by-doing approach to acquire and practice data skills. Our approach is a great fit for everyone—for those who have the ability to dedicate significant chunks of time to learning, and for those who need the flexibility to learn in bite-size chunks.

You can learn on DataCamp any time, anywhere. You guys do a wonderful job putting everything into digestible models. You have exercises, courses, videos. People can spend 30 minutes on the platform in a systematic way. —Andrew He, SVP, Global Risk Analytics, HSBC

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